Starting from where I left off last week, let’s take a look at some of the other archetypes that gain from Journey into Nyx.
Hexproof is the one deck that looks legitimately scarier after Journey becomes legal. There are definitely big gains made by other decks in the format, but none seem as great as the current crop of Hexproof decks. Right now, we can immediately add Bassara Tower Archer, Mana Confluence, and Banishing Light to the Naya version to make it better.
Bassara Tower Archer is one of those cards that feels like a small addition to the deck, and true, it won’t induce Invisible Stalker levels of frustration for opponents. Just by adding a 2-drop with hexproof, however, we have an immensely improved curve. This could be compensated for thanks to Unflinching Courage doing such a good job of buying back turns in a race. Despite this, the deck typically felt a turn behind which meant a crucial enchantment kill spell or Skullcrack could be the difference. Now the deck can curve from 2-drop into Courage or Gift of Orzhova and race the majority of decks in the format with ease.
Banishing Light makes for an interesting alternative to Chained to the Rocks. You lose the conditional nature of Chained and gain versatility by hitting planeswalkers and enchantments. This is the card that will most likely fluctuate between main and sideboard play due its cost, effectively eating a turn to cast it, but it should be worth it. In the mirror it definitely feels like a big game considering how much it revolves around hitting a critical mass of Auras.
What interests me most is that only Boros Charm and Madcap Skills are the only red cards left in the deck. With a reasonable alternative to Chained to the Rocks and more consistent starts, we can now explore other colors without losing very much. Madcap Skills may help the goldfish, but Gift of Orzhova is likely better as life gain is huge.
For example, what if we went the Junk route?
The sideboard is very biased toward a small set of decks and I highly recommend figuring out your own options. As I mentioned above, Gift of Orzhova does a lot to take minimize life-loss, and the discard elements alongside Golgari Charm should pretty easily take care of the same issues Boros Charm did. Going this route removes some of the explosiveness as you can’t double strike people out of the game from double-digit life totals. Dark Favor does a reasonable Madcap impression when blockers aren’t involved and we have 12 enchantments that make our guys evasive or otherwise resilient in combat.
This is only a first draft as well, so we can easily tweak the exact numbers and test out the non-hexproof creature slot for bestow options. I love that the mana is clean now and we can consistently cast whatever we like. I would try a Bant build out if I could find a good reason to do so, but right now Naya and Junk seem like the two builds that could work.
Burn takes a slight hit with Journey to Nyx making more aggressive decks better while not providing much for red players. While Burn players don’t gain anything for the main deck, there are a few interesting sideboard options.
First is Prophetic Flamespeaker which we simply can’t maindeck without assistance, but coming in from the board against 0-4 removal spells is a more interesting proposition. While it doesn’t hit particularly hard in Burn, nabbing two virtual cards every swing is pretty ridiculous when your typical concern is running out of gas. While decks like GR and Mono-Red with lots of dudes and bloodrush take better advantage of Flamespeaker it’s powerful enough to be worth a try.
Next comes Eidolon of the Great Revel which lacks a real home at the moment. It was never going to shine in Standard compared to Eternal formats where it can play the role of combo hoser. However, even in a lesser role of punishing midrange builds where it’ll deal the most damage, the symmetrical nature is too much to break away from. As James Fazzolari said in his own Red Set Review:
“In Standard, it forces you into an extremely creature-dense strategy if you are to maindeck it, but those are not doing very well right now and will probably do even worse once the green-based aggressive strategies have their mana issues fixed with Mana Confluence. “
So it doesn’t go into Burn and it’s quite difficult at the moment to get a real advantage from using it. Keep an eye on the Eidolon for the future or for heavy creature red decks.
Much like in Hexproof decks, you now have the option to run Banishing Light over Chained to the Rocks. In Burn your mana is at a premium, so that puts a bit of a damper on things, but hitting Jace, Architect of Thought is a big game for Young Pyromancer fans. Typically Burn can also absorb spending a turn on removal better than other decks, since you frequently don’t want to spend burn on the same turn you Chained to the Rocks. I’ll stick with boring Chained to the Rocks for now, but I’m definitely keeping the new Oblivion Ring in mind.
For five minutes I thought Keranos, God of Storms would fit into Burn as a decent end-game threat. With the Izzet land finally released, all should be right with the world to splash a third color off our scry lands. However with a little more consideration there’s just no real reason to build it into the deck when Assemble the Legion exists already. In some corner cases it’ll be a better card, but the rest of the time Assemble just accomplishes the goal on-color and with better consistency.
So yeah, Burn didn’t gain squat and it may have worse matches on the whole. Keep it in your mind moving forward, especially if you play on Magic Online, but don’t be surprised to see it fall back into line with every other deck.
So what I learned from this deck is that Athreos is amazing and lives up to its top billing for Standard. What I also learned is that every build of BW currently out there is terrible. None of them stand up well against other midrange or green-based aggressive decks. Red decks, Burn specifically, can board Magma Spray or Anger of the Gods and ruin their best plan which involves Xathrid Necromancer. Without Voice of Resurgence, Lingering Souls, or Varolz like the Junk Aristocrats decks of old there’s just not a high enough power level to justify playing the deck.
Basically you have the choice of playing a bunch of bad 2-power one- and two-drops with a few really powerful three-drops and Thoughtseize backing you up.
We can play a bunch of really powerful threats at two, three, and four with Thoughtseize backing us up and a bunch of removal and Underworld Connections.
We could just play a deck that puts out a near-unkillable threat, throws an Armadillo Cloak onto it and becomes impossible to race.
There’s just not a great reason to do such weak things in the current format. The synergy is very much here, it just doesn’t amount to as much as I was hoping for. Part of this could be build-based and I’ll continue to dig into BW Humans, WW splashing Atheros, and one or two other cards and other possibilities. It’s possible one has what I’m looking for even with the current flaws.
Mono-Red Aggro (And Friends)
Unlike Burn, Mono-Red gained a couple of sweet cards from Journey as the deck is more creature-centric. For example, Prophetic Flamespeaker goes from being a maybe sideboard card to main attraction status. Between Rubblebelt Maaka and a handful of other ways to pump him you can easily have a must-kill threat that also threatens card advantage under normal circumstances. You don’t need to throw pump onto him whenever he goes attacking and I think that’ll be the hang up people have at first.
I talked about Mogis’s Warhound before and I feel this is one of those cards I’m either dead on or completely off the mark about. It definitely isn’t a playable body, but I feel like Giant Strength attached to a body is worth red’s time. It also provides another creature to throw down when playing Burning-Tree Emissary.
There are plenty of easy splashes to help increase your reach and the durability of your early creatures, this is just the most bare-bones and quickest of them. My deck of choice, Esper, gets completely rolled by this type of deck if I whiff on multiple early removal spells. Even when I do get them, Warhound can be surprisingly annoying as that and a Mutavault represent 4 damage post-Verdict. Of course, if this type of deck is too sane for you we have other options… And frankly who wants a sane deck? We’re heroes!
I suspect this deck will be a much bigger player in Block where right now everything except black aggro durdles until turn four. Launch the Fleet and Blinding Flare go a long way toward making heroic a viable option and giving us multiple triggers while also providing relevant boosts. Launch the Fleet in particular gets us triggers and an army which makes Anax and other mass pump a very powerful answer. Dynacharge may also be worth trying out at some point and I’m sad the mana isn’t good enough for Phalanx Leader.
Right now is the usual excitement period with the new cards and players want to test new ideas. I’d recommend sticking with a traditional control build until we know how the metagame is shaking out or taking the proactive route and playing a Naya/Junk Hexproof deck. It has a very good match against Mountains and can be tweaked to infuriate the majority of the metagame. Not the most original choice I’ll admit, but I’d rather have a powerful deck for the first week of a new format.
Until next week.
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org